Leadership

NRA, Facing Critics, Responds to Sandy Hook Controversy

By Ernie Smith / Dec 19, 2012 (National Rifle Association)

The National Rifle Association, which shut down its social media channels in the wake of the deadly school shooting last week, says it will offer “meaningful contributions” to the gun control discussion.

All eyes are on the National Rifle Association.

After last week’s school shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, many focused their attention on the NRA, which has often become a spark of controversy in the wake of gun violence.

The NRA is prepared to offer meaningful contributions to help make sure this never happens again.

Facing legislative and public relations challenges, the group broke its silence on Tuesday. More details:

The controversy: After the shooting in Newtown, supporters of gun control have kept the issue at the forefront. One WhiteHouse.gov petition titled “Immediately address the issue of gun control through the introduction of legislation in Congress” gained nearly 200,000 signatures in less than a week. And, many politicians—most notably New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg—specifically called for something to be done.

Keeping quiet: The NRA’s inital response was to be silent, as we reported on Monday. The group, which usually has active social media presences promoting the rights of gun owners and manufacturers, kept things quiet after the shooting as it became a focal point of negative reaction. On Facebook, it took things a step further, shutting down the page over the weekend.

The response: On Tuesday, the gun association finally spoke up. “Out of respect for the families, and as a matter of common decency, we have given time for mourning, prayer, and a full investigation of the facts before commenting,” the group said in a statement. “The NRA is prepared to offer meaningful contributions to help make sure this never happens again.” At the same time, the NRA reactivated its Facebook page.

In the statement, the group said it would hold a “major news conference” on Friday (that announcement has drawn more than 5,000 comments since it was posted Tuesday evening). With millions of supporters and campaign contributions far outpacing the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence—the largest gun control advocacy organization—the NRA will likely have a major effect on what happens next.

If you were running the NRA, how would you handle this crisis? And was its social media response the right one? Let us know in the comments.

Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now and a former newspaper guy. More »

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